The topic of leadership has been written about countless times, yet so many of us get it wrong. We often read descriptors like “a Sheppard herding sheep” to describe leaders. However, as a leader, you have to do more than attract a following around the present direction. You have to set direction and convince people to work together towards a shared vision of the future. At The Covenant Group, we emphasize the importance of a vision that is widely shared, widely known, and widely believed.

Leaders need to be able to communicate their vision in a clear and compelling way. They need to share a dream and direction that other people want to help realize. You want your vision to permeate the workplace, build culture, and manifest itself in the actions, beliefs, values, and goals of your staff. A good vision is also the starting point for a system of accountability.

It Starts with Your Team

As Peter Drucker famously stated, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Getting people to work together isn’t easy and, unfortunately, many leaders skip over team and culture building. They rush to results. Before focusing on a strategy and the objectives to achieve it, it is important to devote time to creating a culture that speaks to the values of your business. Whether your team is growing or established, take the time to clarify the principles that will guide their work and solicit feedback on the meaning the principles have to your team.

One of the most important things to do is to get to know your team members and to encourage them to get to know each other. You can use a psychometric tool, like DNA Behavior. This exercise can bring insights to all involved and highlight the behavior you want to encourage – and avoid – going forward. Having team members reflect on the insights from the tools can help us better understand each other and the behavior that drives us at work.

Establishing Two-way Communication

Open, honest two-way communication is absolutely key to effective leadership. Communication means staying connected, giving people opportunities to ask questions, sharing regularly, and asking for feedback. As a leader, you need to model asking for feedback and genuinely responding to that feedback. If you only give feedback and you are not open to receiving it, you will start to notice a decline in productivity. Do not let trust and engagement erode because communication is not open and honest. 

Setting Goals and Objectives

If you set clear goals and objectives, everyone is clear on what work needs to be done and by whom. It’s also a good idea to revisit your goals and objectives regularly to ensure they are still relevant. Some objectives need to be reviewed weekly, some monthly or quarterly. As things change and evolve within your team, your business, or organization, you may want to or need to make some changes. Having clear objectives helps your team have a clear understanding of what work needs to be done and what the priorities are.

Creating a System of Accountability

Employees are paid for effectiveness in their role. It is important to hold employees accountable for their areas of responsibility and the objectives you set out to achieve together.

As a leader, you want to encourage and empower your employees to take on full functions. Don’t assign small tasks and resign yourself to micromanagement. A function within a business is a group of tasks that form a primary responsibility. A function is typically thought of as a department, for example, marketing, sales, accounting or IT. Assigning full functions to individuals allows them to grow in a given area and develop skills and expertise. Together, you can clarify the objectives and identify the tasks that are associated with each function so that it is clear to the individual in that role what they are accountable for. Your job will be to act as a resource to your team, provide guidance, and coach where necessary.

In summary, to be a great leader remember to create a compelling vision that can be shared across your team, cultivate a culture that will engage people both the vision and mission of the business, establish open and honest communication, drive results through clear goal and objective setting activities, and create a system of accountability to make sure everyone stays on track.